June Ikegame / “ALOHA, JUNE STUDIO” Hula Dancer
Walk up a narrow road that follows the Anbou river and continue beyond a sign that marks this as a natural habitat for the tamarind plant. There, where the tropical foliage grows in thick abundance, you will find the Aloha, June Studio.
A hula dancer, Ms. June Ikegame was born on Yakushima island. Her name, June (pronounced joo-nay), comes from a local folktale. Ms. Ikegame was first exposed to hula dancing nearly 20 years ago, when she was 20 years old, and she has been dancing ever since. Nowadays, she teaches hula dancing classes in Yakushima, Tanegashima, and Kagoshima, and in her capacity as studio owner she is constantly on the run.
Because hula dancing requires the use of one’s whole body to depict the natural environment, it has an image of being difficult. However, students at the Aloha, June Studio dance gracefully, giving great care to each expression. “It is my hope that, through hula dancing, my students will find peace of body and mind and will be forever smiling.” She says that it is with this wish in mind that she teaches hula dancing.
“An important characteristic of hula dancing is to express through song the presence of nature and an appreciation of it.” Although hula dancing originated in Hawaii’s plush natural environment, Ms. Ikegame says that the scenery described in its lyrics has a lot in common with the nature to be found on Yakushima.
Ms. Ikegame left Yakushima when she went to the mainland for junior high school and after living elsewhere in Japan and abroad, she returned to the island. For her, Yakushima is “a place where I’m able to breathe deeply with every cell of my body.” The island is a place where her body and soul are at peace.
The island’s nature breathes life into the hula dance and light from the blue sky shines like a spotlight on the Aloha, June Studio engulfed in greenery.
(written by Urara Ogata of the Sanpotei)
=ALOHA, JUNE STUDIO=
Address: 2333-2 Anbou, Yakushima, Kumage District, Kagoshima, Japan